In the first premium television and craft brewery marketing tie-in that we can think of, HBO has teamed with New York brewery Ommegang for a beer to commemorate the third season of the cable network’s hit “Game of Thrones.” Iron Throne Blond Ale is a light and approachable beer that should please craft beer fans as well as fans of the show who are not yet craft beer converts.
For those unfamiliar with the violent and often risque show -- or the even more salacious novels the show is based on -- the Iron Throne is the physical seat of power for the medieval fantasy realm in which the story of intrigue, ambition and revenge is set. A young and malicious blond-haired king sits on the throne and gives the brewers inspiration for the “piercing Golden Blonde Ale with Noble hops [that] is certainly fair in color and soft in appearance, yet it still possesses a complexity and bite to be on guard for.”
Brewery Ommegang has been brewing Belgian-inspired ales since 1997, and the Iron Throne Ale is just the first in a planned series of “Game of Thrones” tie-in brews. The beer itself is packaged in a 750-milliliter cork-and-cage finished bottle and adorned with Ommegang’s typical bold label design featuring the intimidating Iron Throne from the show. Don’t point the bottle at your face when you’re uncorking this beer; it’s quite carbonated, and once the wire cage is removed the cork will jump from the bottle with the slightest provocation.
Thankfully, this is no bland tie-in beer whose merit ends at the label. The blond ale is light and drinkable with a complexity that showcases an assertive clove and spicy yeast character, a sweet malt body with a light citrus note from the lemon peels used in the brewing, and a herbal and fruity finish with just enough bitterness to stay balanced. The ale won’t scare off drinkers unfamiliar with the flavors of Belgian beer styles.
Iron Throne Blond Ale will set you back between $8 and $9 a bottle, and you can find it at better beer retailers and Whole Foods locations. There are also a few events for the beer’s release if you can’t find a bottle: Little Bear in the Arts District will tap a keg of the brew on Sunday at 10 a.m. while running a marathon of “Game of Thrones’” second season; Sunset Beer Co. will tap a keg for its Ommegang night on Tuesday; and Stout, the burger and beer joint in Hollywood, will have a keg at its keep-the-glass night on Wednesday.
While the beer may not capture the imagination of dedicated and adventurous craft beer fans, it just might help fans of the HBO show discover the flavorful and diverse world of craft beer.